Promote Kindness, Not Taxes
An unpopular item in Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s budget proposal is the 12.5 percent funding cut to higher education. Considering there are more frivolous, untouched state expenses like tax credits for wine or beef production, I can understand why. What I cannot understand is why one of the first things individuals consider is more taxes. Grover Cleveland offers a lesson for such thinking:
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. . . . Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
Although Cleveland was talking about federal aid during a drought, the lesson is applicable to our current situation: Charity should be preferred over taxes. After all, taxes do not lend themselves to a “kindly sentiment.” And is charity such a radical option? Don’t universities already receive such donations? It seems that if the state believes citizens want to support universities, the government should let the people voluntarily display their support.
But suppose charity falls short – what then? Tuition increases should be considered. After all, let’s not forget that students are the ones choosing to attend college. When the price of education goes up, there is nothing wrong with charging a higher fee. And for those who cannot afford the higher fee, there are alternatives: scholarships and student loans. If both those options do not work, there is the alternative of a less costly education at a community college. Finally, if all else fails, college can be deferred. I have known several individuals who have put off college in order to accumulate savings for it. All options should be exhausted before reaching into the public purse.